Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10321/3201
Title: University community engagement in Zimbabwe : an asset-based analysis
Authors: Museva, Loveness Makhosazana 
Issue Date: 2018
Abstract: This thesis is an investigation into the community engagement relationship between Zindowe Mberengwa community and the Midlands State University, drawing on the asset-based community development theory, supported by Heifetz’s concept of adaptive leadership and Nyerere’s concept of ujamaa. The nature of the study is centred on the relationship between the university and the community, focusing on the relationships of power, asset recognition, and collaboration during the decision making process. The region selected was the Zindowe village, under Chief Nyamondo, in Mberengwa South. The purpose of the study was to examine the extent to which the engagement and relationship between the university and the community facilitates community ownership over decision-making and shared ownership of knowledge with a view to developing greater self-reliance and sustainable development in the Mberengwa community. This was a qualitative case study design, using the interpretive paradigm. The methods of data collection included documentary analysis and interviews with university staff. Community members were also interviewed using focus group discussions. Observations and a transect walk were undertaken with key participants in the community. The sample size was made up of 18 university staff members and 32 participants from the community. The total number of participants was 50. The study used the adaptive leadership, asset-based community development and ujamaa theories to analyse the findings. The findings suggest that the initial approach to the community was consultative but needs-based rather than asset-based. Nevertheless, the community gained new skills such as bee keeping and literacy. However, the university leadership did not follow the principles of adaptive leadership which emphasise ongoing dialogue and clarification of competing goals and values and collective ownership over decisions. There was a tendency for the university to own the project to the extent that the ujamaa principles of family-hood and community self-reliance were under threat during a disorganised phase of tensions where there was community withdrawal from activities. A significant, and unusual outcome of this disorganised phase was the decision by community members to take control by creating their own constitution and appointing a community coordinator to act as mediator between the university and community. This resulted in the community realising their own assets and working towards self-reliance and a more sustained and equal partnership with the university. Findings showed that there were number of challenges faced by the university and the community engagement process at the Midlands State University. These included limited communication because of a lack of community representation in the two major university committees which were responsible for the decision-making. Finally, it was evident from the findings that the university staff were overworked and they were not awarded an incentive for community engagement work which to them, came in as an extra load. There was a sense that the community’s indigenous knowledge was an asset to the university but it did not result in meaningful co-creation of knowledge that benefitted the community. The study recommended that there should be stakeholder inclusion in strategic committees between those who crafted the policies and those who were supposed to implement them; thus ensuring listening to the community voice which would then lead to a more trusting relationship and finally the successful shared ownership of the project. The study further suggested that the university should adhere to and implement policies consistently in order to minimise the tensions and misunderstandings and that the engagement process should encourage communities to realise their own assets from the outset. As a result, there is a need to have a more value driven university community engagement, which will enable critical thinking and embrace sustainable development; for example, universities should play a leading role in incubating industries within the communities by providing education and skills so that the communities can solve their own problems and build expertise on a larger scale at community level with a view to expanding their economic empowerment. Finally, the study also recommended that there is a need for the university to revisit the policy on university community engagement with particular attention to the lecturers’ teaching loads and rewards or incentives. A model is offered as a guideline for the community engagement process. In conclusion, it is important to note that the Midlands State University initiated this project in good faith with attention to the community’s needs. The phases of ‘forming’, ‘storming’ and ‘norming’ in many ways followed a normal growth process of group interaction. In spite of the challenges, the community did benefit in different ways as indicated by the women’s focus group when they said: “we are now able to pay fees for our children.” Any criticism of this project should therefore be taken in the spirit of critical inquiry with a view to improving the project.
Description: Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the Degree of Doctor of Education, Durban University of Technology, 2018.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10321/3201
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Arts and Design)

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